Asian Games 2018: Indian football teams denied clearance by IOA, leaves AIFF miffed
The Indian football teams have been denied clearance by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for the Asian Games, the All Indian Football Federation (AIFF) confirmed in a press release on Sunday.
Stephen Constantine had earlier said that the Olympic Committee and the government had agreed to send the Indian team to the Asian games, according to the news snippets he received. However, they did not receive anything in writing.
Football is a U-23 event and as many as 11 players in India's Under-23 team were in the Senior National team that recently won the Intercontinental Cup. It would have done these boys wonders in terms of exposure had they been given the chance to play at the Asiad.
It is true that the Indian football team did not stand many chances of coming back home with a medal but it could still have been great preparation for AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Kushal Das, General Secretary of the AIFF, told Sportskeeda, "It is true that both the Men's and Women's football teams have been rejected from going to the Asian Games. IOA has cited the non-fulfillment of their team sport qualification criteria as the reason behind the omission.
"According to the criteria - for a team sport, the country must come within the top 8 in Asia to qualify, whereas the Men's team is ranked 14th in Asia. Same goes with the case of the Women's team, which is ranked 13th."
These norms have been flexible on multiple occasions before, then it certainly comes as a surprise as to why they are being made so strict, that too, when football is classified as a priority sport by the sports ministry, and the Indian football team is also doing really well, constantly maintaining their ranking at 97th in the world.
“It’s clear the IOA lacks the vision and competence to understand that football is a global sport played by 212 countries and that the top five teams in Asia play in the Fifa World Cup where the level of competition is far superior to the Asian Games,” the AIFF said in a press release.
“It is indeed a sad state of affairs for sport in India that the IOA is unable to distinguish the specific needs of each sport in the country. The IOA was never even bothered to even once discuss with the AIFF the strategy and plans for developing football in India,” the release added.
Miffed with the way things are turning out, AIFF may plan to head to Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's office to see if the decision can be overturned.
Four years ago, a similar issue had risen, however, the then AIFF President Praful Patel successfully managed to convince IOA to send the squad. Although the team went on to lose all their matches then, there is no justification of the complete omission now as the performance of the Indian team has constantly been on the rise.
Any remarks from IOA are awaited.